Local lovers of Italian cuisine are likely already aware of East Cliff’s Lago di Como Ristorante. Now, the restaurant’s owners Giovanni Spanu and Mary Ellen Salciccia-Spanu have joined forces with John Battista to purchase the grocery store next door, reopening it as Tutto Fresco. While groceries are a focal point, they also offer fresh, hot Italian food to go, as well as imported Italian groceries that might be hard to find elsewhere. We spoke with Battista to get the scoop on all of their tasty treats, which hopefully includes some gelato, if you know what I mean.
So you’re a deli or a store?
JOHN BATTISTA: We’re a grocery store and a deli with an Italian spin. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the place that was here before. It was kind of a rundown, dirty market. We took over that market and cleaned it up, and turned it into a grocery store. We have your typical things like ketchup and mayonnaise and crackers and bread, but we also have fresh-cut lunch meat. We make paninis and pizza. We bake bread and pastries every day. We serve gelato. We have exotic oils and pastas. We’re not carrying convenience store energy drinks, we’re carrying imported French sodas. We make meals to go, and espressos and cappuccinos. You can come here and get a half-gallon of milk, and get a panino. You can also pick up a meal to go. We make cannelloni, lasagna, stuffed peppers.
Is there any overlap between Lago di Como and Tutto Fresco?
There is some overlap. Giovanni is doing very well with his business. You can get a container of his pesto here. There are some things we cook specifically here; for example, the pizza oven in his restaurant is a $50,000 pizza oven that fires at 800 degrees. We don’t have that here, so we make a thicker pizza. There, it’s thin crust Neapolitan style. Over here it’s more Sicilian-style pizza. He uses dry pasta over there, just because that’s how his restaurant is set up. We use fresh pastas. So we tend to be a lot more homemade and fresh. They couldn’t deal with making fresh pasta because they have to serve it so quickly. We make some stuff that they don’t make there, like stuffed peppers. We make cannelloni here, but they don’t make it there. If you like the salmon there, you can get the same salmon here. If you like the rib eye there, you can get the same rib eye here.
21400 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 621-2063.